(CelebrityAccess MediaWire) — Now that summer is over, the music industry is taking serious stock of what has been deemed one of the worst concert summers in recent memory. High artist guarantees and greed are driving up ticket prices to exorbitant levels plus increasing gas prices have made going to concerts more than second nature. Promoters blame artists, their managers and agents for this state of affairs, yet they put in offers with high guarantees. The Wall Street Journal recently examined some of these issues but failed to look at the cost of touring and production as a means for high ticket prices. Nor did the Journal look at the ever increasing ticket and facility surcharges.
Alex Hodges, executive vice president of House of Blues Concerts, told the Journal they do not intentionally overpay, "but you talk yourself into believing you can sell 13,000 to 14,000 tickets at $70, and the public comes back and says you can sell 9,000."
William Morris' Marc Geiger notes, "At the end of the day it is greed" that drives up the artists' guarantees, and told the paper that when he drives a hard bargain on his clients' behalf, he is just doing his job.
While the summer had some hits like Kenny Chesney and the Vans Warped Tour, there were more misses. The paper cites the Norah Jones, Fleetwood Mac, Simon & Garfunkel and Gloria Estefan tours as fan turnout disappointments, not to mention the cancellation of a revived Lollapalooza. Even veteran rockers Kiss, who have done solid business in the past, only drew 4,345 concertgoers to its August 4 show at Atlanta's 18,389-capacity Hi Fi Buys Amphitheatre.
"They've played everywhere in the world," promoter Andy Hewitt told the paper, intimating the band's overexposure. "They don't need another market. They need a whole fresh planet."
"They did good business," says Kiss' manager, Doc McGhee. "Maybe not good enough for what people paid them."
Many veteran acts fall into a touring cycle of repeat markets year in and year out, particularly during the shed season, June through September, and some do the same show every year, which is further compounded when the artist or act lacks charisma.
"The public is pushing back," says Hodges. "[They're] saying, `If I've seen the band already in the past 12 to 18 months, I might not go back to see them again, even if they're my favorites."
Ticket prices up to $350 for shows by artists like Madonna and Simon & Garfunkel are not necessarily the problem either — those premium tickets usually sell out first. Rather, it is the $70-$80 ticket for mediocre seats at shows by mid-level acts that is more dangerous, industry people say, the paper reports.
Industry critics have put the blame of increasingly overpriced tickets on Clear Channel Entertainment, who have out-bid other promoters for the industry's top tours, and paying, by industry standards, ridiculous guarantees. Mark Rapino, newly appointed president of Clear Channel Entertainment told the paper that next summer they will now consider "passing on some tours" if the numbers do not add up.
"The change has to be executed by the people who write the checks," says Hodges. "That's the promoters
— Jane Cohen and Bob Grossweiner